My career in sports has brought me a lot of varied bits of fulfillment. From starting off at Memorial Stadium’s Hit and Run Club in 1981 with an Orioles postgame show on WFBR that featured my then-sister-in-law, Laura, to hosting my own talk shows on a variety of radio stations through 2001, my career is always something I’ll be proud of.
Starting PressBox in 2006 with a great batch of friends and investors has been the heaviest lift of my professional life. It’s something that has brought me a great level of satisfaction that is with me each and every day. It still gets me up every day and gives me a sense of purpose and direction I may not have had without all of the responsibility.
But if you ask me about the most fun piece of my professional life, it would have to be my position on the board of the Maryland State Athletic Hall of Fame.
All the members of our team get the annual privilege to nominate 14-17 athletes — and even horses, too — for induction into the Hall of Fame. We then debate and trim that list down to the four or five new inductees who will be recognized at our annual gala. In addition to inducting former athletes, each year we also select one or two John F. Steadman Award winners. The award recognizes a Maryland citizen, such as a media member, trainer or coach, with a lifetime career in sports.
The debates are lively, as board members state the case for their nominees. So far, in the two full years I have been on the board, I have had the pleasure of presenting the nominations for horse racing trainer extraordinaire William “Bill” Boniface and women’s soccer legend Ali Andrzejewski. Boniface was inducted into the Hall of Fame in 2018, while Andrzejewski will follow this year.
Even more exciting than the internal debates is getting to make that phone call to notify a person of his or her induction. To be able to impart the knowledge of such an honor is really almost as exciting for me as it is for the recipient.
You’ll note that I said almost. This year, we selected University of Maryland basketball legend Walt Williams. Since I know Williams a bit and since PressBox did a cover story on him a few years ago, Steve Doherty, the chairman of the board for the Maryland State Athletic Hall of Fame, asked me if I’d make the call. I told Doherty it would be my pleasure to notify Williams.
We make every effort to make sure any nominee will be able to attend the gala, because the inductees and their supporters make the event a very special evening. I asked Williams if he’d be able to come to the Nov. 7 dinner and the annual news conference to announce the inductees. Williams put me at ease with that great laugh he has. “Stan, anytime I go into any hall of fame, I am going to be there,” he told me.
This year’s induction dinner will be the 60th in the history of the Maryland State Athletic Hall of Fame. There has been an annual induction every year since 1956 except for 2008-2010. There also was a combined two-year induction for 2006 and 2007.
Since 1956, there have been a lot of obvious names like Lefty Grove, Babe Ruth, Jimmy Foxx and Cal Ripken Jr. (baseball), Joe Speca (soccer), Toots Barger (duckpin bowling), Carol Mann (golf) and Hasim Rahman (boxing), just to name just a few. By my count, 257 men and women have been inducted into the Hall of Fame.
Additionally, the Steadman Award has been given to 21 people. The late Steadman, a longtime Baltimore sportswriter, was the fifth person to receive the award after basketball coaches Jim Phelan and Morgan Wootten, baseball scout Walter Youse and baseball executive Frank Cashen, who worked for the Baltimore Orioles and New York Mets.
In recent years, the board altered the rules to allow the induction of those who are not originally from Maryland. This change paved the way for the likes of Johnny Unitas, Art Donavan, Brooks Robinson and Wes Unseld — to name a few — to join this esteemed group.
This year, in addition to Williams and Andrzejewski, the inductees include: former Towson lacrosse great Rob Shenk; Severna Park, Md., native, Mount Saint Joseph graduate and longtime baseball star Mark Teixeira, and Baltimore-born tennis legend Steve Krulevitz. The Steadman Award winners are late Johns Hopkins football coach Jim Margraff and longtime local broadcaster Tom Davis.
If you have never attended, please consider purchasing a ticket or two. In addition to supporting the Maryland State Athletic Hall of Fame, you’ll get to hobnob with this year’s inductees and listen to their speeches. I promise you’ll be moved. Tickets can be purchased individually or as a table at mdsahof.com. The event will be held at Martin’s West on Thursday, Nov. 7.
Photo Credit: Courtesy of the Maryland State Athletic Hall of Fame
Issue 258: October 2019
Originally published Oct. 15, 2019